His words caught me off guard. It wasn’t that they were strange or foreign… In fact, they were all too familiar. How many times had I whispered these words to myself over the past year?
Don’t tie yourself down. You’re a wanderer. Don’t ever give that up. Freedom– don’t let it go.
Usually I found this mantra encouraging. It was a reminder to follow my dreams when everyone else told me “no”. In many ways, it was a commandment to not allow others’ expectations hold me back. Hearing the words spoken aloud — a response to my long-distance relationship — was different. They sounded strange, even offensive.
I was scared. Was I really tying myself down? Phrases like “travel while you’re young” and “see the world before settling down” had once been encouragements to fulfill my dreams, but now they only added weight to my doubts. Perhaps I was just being a silly nineteen-year-old, but questions bubbled to the surface. Was I throwing away my chance to travel unhindered? Yes, that was a possibility. Would I become like women of previous generations — a husband and children with dreams of distant city skylines blurring into a small country house? The questions continued until they forced me to be honest.
I was scared, because I knew my whispering of freedom was just a cover up. Like my questions, it was just a way to avoid commitment and emotion. Travel allowed me to run away without admitting my fears, but I realized that I couldn’t let others’ expectations of my dreams dictate the adventures I chose.
Besides, travel isn’t everything.
These are hard words to say, but they are true. As much as I love living out of a suitcase, there are people in my life who I love more. When I was first confronted with my own internal fears, I didn’t know what to say. Now I do…
Yes, I may be tying myself down, but I am more free than I have ever been. I am free to be honest with myself — my fears and failures, my hopes and dreams — without running away from commitment. Yes, I am tying myself down, but that doesn’t mean I’m stuck. Instead of traveling solo, I am now on an adventure with another individual, and I am free to share my dreams with him. Most importantly, I am free to love my dreams without running from fear of loving another.
While we might not like hearing that travel isn’t everything, it’s a truth we must face as adventurers. Seeing the world is wonderful, but there are things in life — relationships, family, friends, and other dreams — that are just as, if not more, important. Like everything else in life, travel has its own place and time. Despite the charm of a wayfaring life, don’t let it become an excuse to put other aspects of life on hold. Fall in love, interview for a dream job, move to a new city with a dear friend — no, it might not be what people expect from a wanderer of the world, but after all, travel isn’t everything. Besides, there are always adventures around the corner no matter where you are. Travel isn’t everything, but following your heart, loving freely, and living life without regrets is.